I still remember the day well. It was back in December 2012 when the LendingClub PR people reached out to me to say they had an announcement of a high profile new board member. I am normally a bit skeptical of these announcements because a PR person’s definition of high profile and mine were usually quite different. That was not the case here.
When I heard it was Larry Summers joining the board I was astounded. Here was a former Treasury Secretary under President Clinton and former head of the National Economic Council under President Obama believing our industry was going places. Keep in mind this was back in 2012. LendingClub was two years away from their IPO and while they were getting traction (they had just crossed $1 billion in total lending the previous month) in many ways they were still a startup. The industry as a whole was still very much unknown and this announcement really grabbed everyone’s attention, including mine.
Yesterday, we learned that after nearly six years Mr. Summers will be leaving the board of LendingClub. He is being replaced by leading economist and Stanford professor Susan Athey. While she is not nearly as well known as Larry Summers she still brings serious economics clout to the board.
She is the Economics of Technology Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2007, she was awarded the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal for the best American Economist under the age of 40. Her recent academic research and teaching focuses on platform competition, financial technology, the impact of the internet and social media on consumer behavior, and new econometric methods for analyzing big data. Interestingly, she also sits on the board of travel marketplace Expedia as well as blockchain startup Ripple.